Part 2: Three Ingredients for growing a successful business in the UAE

Different cultures together

Success Ingredient #1: Stay Competitive by selecting and enabling the best People to work with  

 

In his book ‘Good to Great’ Author Jim Collins argues that “hiring the best talent” should actually be the first priority business leaders need to focus on when looking to grow their companies, asserting that this should even happen right when the organisation is working on shaping its vision.  Collins believes that “Great vision without great people is irrelevant”.  Personally, I learned this early during the time I had just set-up my first consultancy practice called Next Level in 2006.  I knew that due to the fast growth in the economy, the emergence of a diverse private sector and the growing number of youth population entering the market that being in the ‘people’ business could possibly be a good bet.  I just didn’t know what area of the ‘people’s’ business I needed to operate in.  I would be lying to you if I claimed that I woke up one day, had an epiphany and knew exactly what areas of business and services I would focus on. I believe that as I employed as well as collaborated with like-minded people in y area this helped me further shape my vision and carve my niche.     The type of people I’m alluding to are people who have their ‘finger on the pulse’ and ear in the market.  They understand what customers need, have a pretty good idea what should be done to cater to those needs and are skilled in engaging customers effectively.

Why culture does matter when doing business in the UAE

The unique characteristic of the UAE market makes it important for business leaders to have the best relevant feet on the ground first, identifying opportunities and regularly engaging your company’s target audience.  Consider the fact that the country is one of the most culturally diverse in the world which often requires a culturally relevant personal approach.  I often hear people naively describe the culture in the UAE as a ‘melting pot’, the problem with ‘melting pots’ is that by its design all cultures should ultimately be reflected in one common culture, and that is the culture of the dominant group.  The truth is that the culture in the UAE is more of a ‘salad bowl’ (also known as mosaic);   cultural groups exist separately maintaining their practices and maybe even institutions.  You can see this play out in organisations, in some instances in specific business sectors and even in a single community.  What about the Emirati culture? You might ask.  Well, the best way I can describe the consolidated efforts by the local community as well as the government to protect and ensure the representation of the Emirati identity and culture across various avenues is that the Emirati culture beyond being one of the ingredients of this ‘salad bowl’ is meant to be the salad ‘dressing’ that covers it all and provides the dish much of its distinctiveness.  What I’m trying to convey here is that the mosaic nature of the UAE culture requires companies to select people who have the best cultural fit as well as experience if they are to increase its chances in tapping in to more opportunities available.

Making the case for working with Emiratis

Those who know me and are familiar with my work know that I am a huge advocate of encouraging employers to hire and empower local talent.  On one hand, I am a big promoter of ‘meritocracy’ as a culture in the workplace. I believe companies should take on people who can demonstrate clearly talent, ability and value they bring to the business.  The truth is that my passion for employing and empowering locals in the UAE, and advocating a principle of ‘hire on merit’  might strike some sceptics as a puzzling paradox due to the wide-spread perception that local talent are generally just not “qualified”, or “motivated enough” or are just “too expensive” to take on.  However I believe that it is to the contrary, that the right and empowered–with special emphasis on the word ‘right’- Emirati talent can bring enormous value to your business especially in the long term.  This key point brings me to my next ingredient of the recipe for growing a successful business in the UAE which I will share in my next post.

 

Until then, wishing you a successful day!

Author: Talib Hashim

Abdulmuttalib Al Hashimi (Talib) was born in 1977. He grew up in a sleepy town called Rashidiya, a far cry from the lights and bustle of Dubai. Talib began his career taking on a number of odd jobs (Yes, the legend of the one month stint he landed as a Magician/Promoter in the summer of '96 during the Dubai Shopping Festival is true). His first taste of the corporate world came with the large international bank HSBC, where he started in a small role as a 'Recovery and Debt Collector'. Fortunately, he moved up quickly during his tenure in the bank and was eventually recruited to be part of an elite team of Traders in the banks Global Market department. Inspite of the "Wall Street" like glitz and glamour that came with his role; Talib decided to submit his resignation in the summer of 2006 and say 'Adios' to his cubicle, a regular income -a well paying one too-, his SUV and the life of employment. Together with a young Emirati lady, he established Next Level Management Consultancy, a recruitment firm with specialisation in the niche market of 'Emiratisation' (Employing and developing UAE citizens). He is always proud of the fact that he has helped numerous Emiratis find employment. And he would like to think that he contributed -even if a little bit- to helping them lead happier and more fulfilling lives. Talib holds a Masters Degree in Strategic Project Management. He is an expert in Emiratisation and GCC national employment issues and initiatives. He is also a regular speaker on the topics of employment, development of people, Emirati entrepreneurship and also cultural challenges in the workplace. He also gives a series of motivational speeches titled "10 lessons I learned in 2009". Talib is an expert in multi-cultural issues that influence the Arab workplace and helps companies bridge the gap between their expatriate and local staff. He is often accused by some to be an idealist and a dreamer, however, Talib works tirelessly to become an agent of positive change in society (and ofcourse achieve amazing success as an Entrepreneur in the process). Talib believes that all Arab youth deserve the opportunity and the right to pursue their dreams and aspirations regardless of their race, caste, colour, status and family name in society; and hence he is a strong advocate of national and Arab youth empowerment. He has a passion for travelling and backpacking. He enjoys reading books on history, autobiographies and self improvement. He is currently trying to improve his sketching skills.